• Austin Brimley riding an ATV in a field in Michigan with the sun setting
    Missing Shawn

    Remembering Shawn as He Really Was

    “I’m going on an adventure with Dave!” Austin shouted to me as he grabbed his swimsuit and ran out the door. We were staying with our friends Elissa and Dave for the long weekend, and Austin was overjoyed to be on a farm away from the city. Claire ran after him and the two of them came back hours later with sunburned and smiling faces. They were in kid heaven. It took months to plan this trip. Our group of friends had scattered across the country, so figuring out how to get us all in one place was difficult. Two of them had moved abroad and another one had become…

  • Shawn Brimley hiking with kids outside DC
    New Perspectives

    Go, Go, Go

    Shawn and I met in Japan. We were just out of college, two young kids looking for adventure and a job that would support our wanderings. We ended up in the same town teaching English, me at the middle school and him at the high school. We loved travel. From the first moment we met, we talked about where we wanted to go and what we would do in those places. When we spent a weekend day together even before we were dating, we would get up early and explore whatever city we were in for at least 12 hours. In fact, I have a vivid memory of one night…

  • Austin Brimley fishing on camping trip in Virginia
    Missing Shawn

    The Last Perfect Weekend

    Last weekend, on three of the prettiest days of the spring, I found myself back in a place that I loved. I was cabin camping with my kids and our dear friends, a trip that we’ve done every six months for many years. Tommy climbed into my lap that afternoon and I rocked him in the rocking chair on the back porch of my cabin as I chatted with my friends. The other kids explored the forest and rode their bikes. One of the guys made us a batch of margaritas, and we toasted to a great weekend. Just about then, I looked down and realized that Tommy was asleep.…

  • Shawn Brimley with a pumpkin on his head for Halloween
    Missing Shawn

    There’s No Crying at the Swim-Up Bar

    It was beautiful – paradise in fact – and there I was, crying at the swim-up bar. The winter this year was bleak on the east coast, which in some ways was nice because the weather matched my emotional state. But months of grief and ice were getting to me and to my kids and spring break beckoned. So, we packed everything up and headed south, to somewhere that would maybe provide an escape from all the cold and misery and death. For the first few days, it was bliss, or as close to bliss as I’d felt since early fall. The weather was perfect and the beach was beautiful.…

  • Marjorie Brimley on beach as a young widow
    Missing Shawn

    One King Bed

    “So, it’s you and your children and your husband?” the woman at the check-in counter asked me. The lobby of the hotel was crowded, so I’m sure she was having a hard time figuring out who was with me. I had arrived with a group of friends, and the kids ran everywhere. “No,” I said, and then because I couldn’t help myself, “my husband died in January.” She looked at me like every person does who gets that knowledge unexpectedly. I realize that I could have said, “no, it’s just me and the kids,” or something else that would solve her immediate problem of how to check us in without…